Udube wants to charm fans to Omoku with good football
By Fisayo Dairo
With an average attendance of less than 1,000 fans, modest Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) side Go Round FC have arguably the lowest fanbase in the elite division. The club remain modest in many ramifications from coaches to players who from time to time have donned the orange, green and white colours of the club.
Their unpretentious home ground in Omoku is courageously nicknamed the Lion’s Den and has been some sort of fortress for the side, having never lost there in over four years of league football – their last defeat was against Akwa Starlets in the second division in 2014.
In the 2018/19 league season, they have as their norm is, assembled a young group of players who are largely playing in the top flight for the first time in their careers under the tutelage of Willy Udube, a respected young coach who is also rubbing shoulders with the big guns for the first time.
The season started with an away win against Abia Warriors in Umuahia followed by a setback at home to FC Ifeanyiubah – a goalless stalemate – but having notched their first win at home against El-Kanemi on Monday, one thing was evident; the team’s execution of Udube’s philosophy of giving fans good football to enjoy.
“Each coach has his own way of approaching games. I so much believe in possession football,” Udube told npfl.ng after Monday’s win.
“I so much believe that when you play, you should keep possession and deprive your opponents of the ball. Each time they (the opponents) carry the ball high, my players are mostly short, they are not giants so I strongly believe that when you put the ball on the floor, the team will play. That is good football.”
Although he is handling a top job for the first time, Udube’s several assistant roles at top division clubs including Heartland, Abia Warriors and Rivers United must have given him hints that managing in Nigeria’s top flight is never an easy task.
Aside the impatience of fans and sometimes, desperation to get results at all costs, Udube knows that the exposure of Nigerian fans to European leagues makes it of high necessity that local clubs produce some kind of brand that can bring the fans closer to their darling teams.
“Most people go to watch Barcelona, Man City because of their style. That is what we want to play in our own way so people go to the stadium and enjoy good football, sometimes it’s not all about the result.
“In Nigeria now, the LMC is trying to bring the crowd back into the stadiums so when you play good football, people will be happy to come and watch,” said Udube
His team are now fourth on the Group B log with seven points after four matches. Their latest win however did not come easy as they fought to stave off a stiff challenge from Mohammed BabaGanaru’s El-Kanemi. Both teams were inseparable at the break before Sodiq Ololade’s 58th minute header proved to be the winner. Udube explains how his side got the upperhand in the second half.
“El-Kanemi are a very good side. In the first half, you find out that they played very well, they kept possession of the game but in the second half, after we discovered that they have a player that played their number 10 (Sunday Anthony), we had to neutralise that player through Ifeanyi (Anyanwu) so that’s what gave us the victory,” summed Udube.
Go Round’s next league game will be a rescheduled Matchday 1 fixture against Kada City at the Lion’s Den in Omoku on Thursday.